Selective thinking

Selective primary schools, really? Selectivity is totally inimical with pedagogy and education overall. When will we learn that any form of selectivity, whether public or private, warps the societal framework and hinders true learning and social growth? The negative spin-offs are there for all to see. They range from hothouse educational environments to spectacular coaching gold diggers in various guises. Give teachers of the qualities outlined by Mark Butler (“Choosing passion over paperwork in today’s schools”, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 22) the lead and the vacuous justifications of selectivity crumble into nothingness. Perhaps it is too late for secondary selectives to be modified, although Mark Scott seems to be making an effort. However, incorporating selectivity into primary schools is beneath consideration.

Gus Plater

Best go public

In NSW, there are about 76 specialist high schools including creative and performing arts, technology, sports and selective. I have mixed feelings with regard to these, especially selective high schools. My two eldest children of three, attended a selective high school. As a parent I believed I was doing what was best for them. I started my teaching degree the year my eldest started Year 7. Now 11 years later, as a classroom teacher, I am seeing first hand the negative impact these schools have on local compressive schools. These students are taken out of their local community and this leaves a gap. If I had my time again, I wouldn’t have sent them there but rather to our local comprehensive high school, which our youngest attended with great success. As public schools, we accept all students yet by having these specialist schools we are segregating our students. The very idea of selective primary schools is quite worrying. It’s important that we take the initiative before a decision is made regarding primary selective schools or creating more specialist high schools.

Dianne Byers
Narellan Vale PS

Perpetuating myth

Quality teaching is important but it is only part of the answer to falling standards (“Sound and fury at last signifying something”, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 24-25). Teaching is a partnership between teacher, student and the home. So often the attitude of apathy towards education has to be overcome by teachers.As a society, we value sporting achievement, or singing and cooking achievement, more than academic achievement.The other issue is workload. To say that teachers only want smaller classes to do less work is wrong. More and more has been loaded onto schools with teachers having to do more and more administrative work and they are more and more accountable. Who does the public think does the preparation which can take many hours, the marking, many more hours, give feedback, collate results, write reports, organise all the events and fixtures, run sport teams, dance teams, debating teams etc? Teachers! All done outside classroom hours and with no overtime. Peter Hartcher, I would like to know what teaching qualifications you have and how much teaching experience. Most critics of teaching and teachers think they know only because they have been to school and send their children to school. They do not do the job so have no real understanding of what is involved.

Augusta Monro
Life Member

Class half full

Peter Hartcher’s comment that smaller class sizes only means less work for teachers and no class improvement beggars belief. I would challenge him to teach a class of 30 teenagers with all their behaviour and learning problems and not be begging for it to be half that size to improve teaching outcomes.

Sue Shearer

Remembering Cris

I too was saddened to hear of the death of Cris Treneman. I was a student at Minerva SSP and she was a wonderful teacher. Then I had the pleasure of working with her at the Teachers Federation for many years. I still work here and will always remember what a great and caring person she was.

Kelly Bull

Funding a bit rich

I am bemused by the hero status given to Gonski by the ALP and Federation. Gonski perpetuates the great social divide in Australia because it continues to support government funding for wealthy and exclusive schools.I can understand that any additional funding given to our public schools will be welcomed, but I cannot accept that the poorest taxpayer continues to subsidise the private education of the privileged rich. If you choose private education, you should pay for it yourself. In my view, the short-term Gonski gains are exacerbating a long-term pain for our society and the future generation.

Brian Jeffrey